Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Statement on Xenophobia and Islamophobia

"(...) As psychoanalysts, we at IPTAR know only too well about the clinical affects of racism and xenophobia on individuals, and on the larger society: how the anxiety and fear that create these psychological phenomena, can too easily lead to actions that inflict severe trauma on completely innocent victims and families of a targeted group and, in worst case scenarios, fatal consequences. This projection onto the stranger — the Other — (the “xeno” in xenophobia is from the Greek root “stranger”) whose culture, race or religion are different, involves a splitting in which the worst traits that one fears in oneself are deposited into the Other; to such an extent that empathy and curiosity and a sense of our common humanity with the Other are denied, and suspicion and paranoia hold sway. In addition, sometimes unfortunately this type of phenomena leads to another type of splitting: the elevating of an authoritarian figure who is believed to be “all good”, a person who will supposedly protect one from the now malignant Other. In these matters, emotions can become so frenzied and so great that facts and reality are completely denied.

We know that at times of stress and anxiety, these societal phenomena are more likely to appear. They can lead to internment (of the Japanese on American soil in World War II), to failure to take in refugees who seek safety from oppression (as in the case of the 900 Jewish refugees who were turned back from the Florida coast over 70 years ago), to the terrible aspects of slavery or Jim Crowism, and to genocide. Not only is xenophobia a clinical manifestation, it is a social phenomena that is completely antithetical to the principles of our democratic society. (...)"

A statement by the Institute for Psychoanalytic Trainin and Research (2015)

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